Vanderbilt Law Review


Roscoe Pound

First Page



There is a well-known principle of municipal government that there cannot be two municipalities possessed of the same or similar powers, privileges and jurisdiction covering the same territory at the same time. Perhaps the earliest expression of this principle may be found in an early English dictum to that effect where the court explains why such a proposition must be true, viz., "[F]or, instead of good order, that would only be productive of anarchy." Whether in our conglomerate of municipalities we have abided by this principle or have created duplications, overlappings and conflicts due to the vast multiplicity of municipal units is an issue which will bear study.

It will appear that the courts have not been unduly disturbed by the inconveniences, the probability of litigation, the uneconomical operation of public business or even the anarchy which are inherent in any scheme which departs measurably from the principle that coterminous units should not have the same or similar powers, either wholly or in part. Due or even excessive deference has been shown to the legislative will where the creating statutes have been drawn without adequate care.